Professor Stephen Hawking is backing the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel's treatment of Palestinians.One of the ways in which Palestinians are being mistreated by Israel is collective punishment. For example, according to Amnesty International, Israel uses house demolitions as a form of collective punishment.
Now, if a boycott is a form of collective punishment, too, insofar as innocent people are being punished for the actions of their government, which they may or may not support, are those who support the academic boycott of Israel guilty of being inconsistent? That is, are they protesting the collective punishment of Palestinians by collectively punishing Israeli academics? Or are they fighting fire with fire?